Construction sector halts three-month growth slide

Construction sector halts three-month growth slide

Construction activity led by the building of houses has halted a three-month growth slide in November, figures show.

However, despite nearly 45% of respondents to a regular construction survey expecting building activity to increase over the next year, confidence levels within the industry although still optimistic fell to a five-year low.

The latest purchasing managers’ index from Ulster Bank which is generally seen as one of the main barometers of health for the construction sector, shows a reading of 55.5 points for November, up from 52.9 in October. Anything above the neutral 50 points indicates a sector in growth mode.

November’s jump was helped by a marked pick-up, to a five-year high, in new business orders and a sharp acceleration in housebuilding activity. It follows on from three straight months of slowing growth levels.

Commercial building activity also improved last month, but civil engineering output remained weak and declined for a third month in a row.

“Growth in Irish construction activity re-accelerated in November,” said Ulster Bank’s chief economist in Ireland Simon Barry.

“The rate of overall expansion picked-up from October’s over three-and-a-half-year low, in the process halting a three-month sequence of deceleration from the exceptionally rapid growth recorded in the summer,” he said.

However, while employment in the sector grew in November, the actual rate of that growth softened with companies saying recent delays in some building projects had dampened job creation.

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